It was a delicious evening of food and song. Quite literally. Cocktails and a light buffet which included beef, turkey, crab cakes, tortellini and lots of yummy finger foods started The Collegiate Chorale’s Spring Benefit at the Hudson Theatre in the Millennium Hotel on Wednesday April 29th which was hosted by an admittedly – I like to talk – and he does and he did – extremely charming Roger Rees and featuring multiple award winning Victoria Clark along with the high school students in the Side-by-Side Program of the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts. Champagne and dessert included.
It was an evening to raise scholarship funds for these very talented “irritatingly young singers” – as Roger Rees so aptly put it when introducing them. It’s all about educating the next generation of musicians – opening doors for them – changing their lives. After all, they are the future of music.
In these days of precarious finances a very successful live auction was held with the amazing Mr. Rees as the loquacious, amusing, and tempting auctioneer – with such goods up to the highest bidder as a luncheon date at Mr. K’s with Dr. Ruth -” the only advisor one would ever need” – a personal song composed for you – a trip to Switzerland – a weekend at the Spoleto Festival – a two hour long vocal lesson with Victoria Clark – and lunch and set tour of NBC’s 30Rock – which Nancy Becker, Board Member, bid for and won. Not only did Nancy Becker whose generosity is only surpassed by her good humor, win 30Rock, but she was also given a beautiful bouquet (along with two other board members) for their most recent birthdays. At least five, five thousand dollar scholarships were auctioned off to help the students. What better cause.
Someone bid ten thousand dollars to send some students to this year’s Verbier Festival where they will be performing Faure’s Requiem and Don Giovanni with Bryn Terfel, Susan Graham, Rene Pape, Thomas Quasthoff and Matthew Polenzani, soloists.
Speaking with Joseph Brent and Louis Riva, who started in the high school program and are now off to college, I was informed how wonderful the Side-by-Side program is and how it enabled them both to move forward in their musical careers – and afforded them the privilege under the late Robert Bass to travel to Switzerland’s Verbier Music festival and to tour with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra under Zubin Mehta. It doesn’t get much better than that for a young singer learning his craft. Joseph and Louis agreed it was a tremendous experience where they started out as colleagues and are now rivals. Friendly, I assumed.
Victoria Clark who had a most recent success in the highly praised concert revival of Kurt Weill & Ira Gershwin’s Firebrand of Florence with the Collegiate Chorale, sang a selection of songs ranging from “How Can I Keep From Singing” a Hymn that she learned growing up in Dallas – to a gorgeous rendition of Sondheim’s “In Buddies Eyes” – to “Fable” from her acclaimed performance in The Light in the Piazza at Lincoln Center. With her beautiful voice – simply and sweetly she won the audience over with Irving Berlin’s “I Got Lost in his Arms” accompanied on piano by Mary-Mitchell Campbell.
The students sang a harmonious rendition of Berlin’s “Cheek to Cheek” returning at programs end to serenade us with “Aquarius” and “Let the Sun Shine In” from Hair – which is now enjoying a sensational revival on Broadway. But the true sensation was all the love and support for these students by all those who attended the Sing Happy benefit.
If you would like to make a donation or join the Chorale in Switzerland this July please contact Jennifer Collins at 646 202 9623 or firstname.lastname@example.org